Ladies Learning Code: Why the #YYJ Chapter is Great

I am lucky to live in Victoria, BC and work at UVIC. I have met some wonderful people on and off campus. I have been involved with Ladies Learning Code Victoria (#yyj) Chapter as a volunteer, learner, and sponsor. And, here I am again at an event. This weekend’s event is a Python session. We have approximately 40 learners here and a mentor at each pod.

The energy in the room is amazing. My favorite part, though, is the introduction of the mentors. Every mentor is either affiliated with UVIC or is a local business worker/owner who wants to see more women working as a programmer or developer. It’s quite breathtaking to meet the students involved with the Women in Computer Science and Engineering members. The learners vary in age from 15 – retired.

This time the session was held in one of our Active Learning Classrooms. The room is set up with the instructor in the center, and the students in pods. The set up requires lots of interaction between the students, and the instructor. I am happy to share that the attendees were blown away with the room. I do not feel smug, but rather like I am seeing the consequences of months of hard work by the leadership of the local Ladies Learning Code chapter, and the Classroom Infrastructure Committee at UVIC. OK, I take it back, maybe I feel just a little smug. Smug, and very happy.

Whenever I can see some active learning taking place, I feel a sense of pride. And, here I am witnessing the magic take place, as one of our undergrads leads the session. Yes, she’s teaching the session and doing an amazing job. Ladies Learning Code does a great job connecting our students and the local community.

 

Girls Learning Code: Scratching at the Surface 

This last weekend I volunteered at one of the local Ladies Learning Code events. I helped by doing social media for the Girls Learning Code event at St. Margaret’s, an all girls school in Victoria, BC. The “code” for the day was learning Scratch, and the girls had fun designing games. The school had donated space including the use of their labs, a large area for the girls to eat their lunches, and then the presentation of the games. We ended up using a computer lab at the Junior School and another lab next door at the Senior School campus. Thank you to the school! 

The day was fun and the girls demonsrated their wicked skills with Scratch. Some of the girls were familiar with Scratch, and others were new to it. Regardless, they had fun. The labs were warm with the hum of the computers and the din of conversation among the girls and the mentors roving around to assist. The mentors donated the bulk of their day to help. And, I want to speak to the mentors. 

The vast bulk of the mentors were women, and virtually all of them shared one message. They wished that Girls Learning Code existed when they were young, and that we need more women in the tech industry. One mentor noted that she has never worked on a project team with another woman. And, another mentor noted that in some of her Computer Science courses she is the only woman or one of three in a class of 50. Yeah, re-read those sentences. It’s 2015. We still have work to do. 

A few of the mentors were men and they echoed the comment. “We need more women and girls coding.” The mentors were great and coached the girls through the day. But, I really hope that the girls were left with the messages that it’s cool to like Math, Games, Computers, and Science. The mentors were introduced to the parents, and again the mentors shared their stories. I am sure that some of the girls and parents left the event with a sense of optimism. I hope to see these girls at more of the Girls Learning Code events. 

I used #llcyyj on Instagram, Vine, and Periscope. The Twitter handle is @llcvictoria.